Heroin: Heaven, Hell and Why It’s So Hard to Stop

What Makes Dope So. . . Dope?


Heroin Molecule

Heroin, colloquially known as dope to some, is diacetylmorphine. Diacetylmorphine is made by acetylation of the morphine that is found in opium. It takes roughly ten acres of opium poppies to produce ten kilograms of opium, and that ten kilograms of opium will be turned into one single kilogram of heroin through the acetylation process (which I know nothing about). This results in a product roughly 1.5 times the potency of morphine. The acetyl groups on the molecule make the drug more lipid soluble, meaning it crosses the blood brain barrier quicker than morphine. This accounts for the rush. However, if heroin is simply ingested it will be converted by the body back into morphine via first pass metabolism. This is why snorting, smoking or injecting are more favorable routes of administration. These ROAs are also better because of the smaller amounts needed and the perceived rush from said ROAs.  [Note: I personally find that there isn’t a very strong rush when smoking or snorting, but many people do feel a decent rush. I’m used to IV though so that could be why I don’t experience much of a rush.]

Bayer’s Dirty Little Secret

Heroin wasn’t originally meant to be an illicit drug. It was actually developed by Bayer (yes, as in Bayer Aspirin) as a less-addictive substitute for morphine to be sold over the counter. Holy shit. Apparently long-term research wasn’t really a necessity back then. Or rather, any research wasn’t necessary back then. I can’t imagine what the R/D department must have been like. They were actually trying to get codeine out of it, but failing that, they apparently just decided to go with it. If all had gone to plan, they would have extracted codeine which is roughly three times weaker than morphine. Thus, their plan to create a less addictive substitute for morphine may have been achieved. But that sure isn’t what happened!

In the end, what Bayer ended up creating was actually more addictive than morphine. It was also more potent, roughly one and a half times more potent. It was available over the counter (drool) and marketed to cure morphine addiction – among a slew of other conditions. Nice.

Bayer Heroin

Heroin: The Cure-All!

My subjective experience. . .

with heroin is interesting. When I was deep in the throws of my addiction, I never touched it, partially because I couldn’t get ahold of it, and partially because I was just using oxycodone and didn’t really need anything else. After getting on Suboxone for a period of time I met a friend who was an on and off again heroin user. We were buddies for awhile, until he suddenly disappeared. Recently, he came back into the picture. He said he was having some legal troubles and had been in jail. He also said he’d be going back in two and a half weeks, so we should hang out. We got to kicking it one day, went out for some beers and then began to talk about dope. One thing led to another, next thing I know we’re copping some dope in a rough part of town.

I started this recent binge by simply smoking the tar on tinfoil, the classic “chasing the dragon.” Later that night after a few more beers and meeting some new people I decided to shoot some dope – he had clean rigs (needles) that I saw him purchase earlier in the day. Were both pretty concerned about dirty needles and harm reduction, so needless to say we took all the necessary precautions. I know how to IV drugs (read some of my earlier posts). My friend cooked me up a shot and I proceeded to inject it, watching that dollop of lazy dark red blood float into the barrel and then hitting the plunger. The rush is amazing. I do mean amazing, like Mark Renton said in Trainspotting:

Take the best orgasm you’ve ever had… multiply it by a thousand, and you’re still nowhere near it.

That rush, despite the fact it only lasts for ten minutes, was my main reason for continuing. Despite the obvious harms to your body you’re creating by IV’ing a drug. I fell into the dope game for about three weeks as I was seeing my friend. Even though he lived a good 40-miles away I had no problem picking him up to go score. The biggest problems with my binge started occurring last Friday until Sunday when I took my final shot. Monday when I took my final shot.

The hellish part:

The first problem needles – every IV addict needs them. I don’t like to re-use them for all sorts of reasons. Bacteria/Viruses, dullness of the tip and clogging. For some reason, even though in my state it is perfectly legal for pharmacies to sell them, many of them won’t. It wasn’t like I was walking in like a junkie either, I wore a nice shirt asked politely for “One CC insulin syringes.” I would be countered with “Do you buy your insulin here.” or just a plain “No.” Not only is it demoralizing to be told no, but on top of that the looks you get from the pharmacist and pharmacy techs is great. It’s a combined look of shock and disgust. As if no one would ever use the medications/supplies they dispense in a way that could get a person high.

Secondly, the fucking track marks. Every IV user has them, and they’re a pain in the ass. It sucks to have to wear a long sleeve shirt to work in the 90-degree weather. Or hang out with clean friends and have to hide them. Sure one could shoot in the feet or hands, but that’s a more dangerous place to shoot. Either way tracks are a shitty part of IV drug addiction.

Track Marks

Right/Left Arm - Track Marks: Not As Sexy As I Thought

Although you really can’t see the real detail in the picture, those are definitely track marks, and they’re definitely visible. Anyone could notice them, and the simple fact that they’re on both arms rather than one dismisses the “I got blood drawn” excuse. Unless of course that blood was drawn by a nurse with palsy and I can’t back that one up. Of course, the marks are my own doing and my responsibility because I chose to use drugs intravenously.

Next on the list is scoring. Scoring dope is easy if you know someone, like my friend. Problem is, everyone with the number of the dealer keeps that number and doesn’t give it out. This is usually because they can get themselves some extra dope by charging more for the bags than they really are. Prices for bags (straight from the dealer) are $30 for a small, $50 for a big. Say whoever you’re with says it actually costs $65 for a big, and you’re getting two (or with two people). This person who’s going to meet with the dealer than gets a small bag for themselves with your money. That’s the “hook-up fee” although my buddy only expected a shot from me, some of the people we went through up charged the bags to get themselves one. Call it shady, but that’s the game. All in all, scoring is a pain in the ass. It depends on several factors like the dealer, who you’re with and what kind of mood the dealer is in. It’d be much easier if there was a place to go and get heroin like a clinic, but we don’t have those. The Swiss do though.

Lastly, I’ve withdrawn from quite a few opiates/opioids and I gotta say, heroin is probably the worst. From my standpoint the two worst things with acute opioid withdrawal are the restless legs. . . err moreover restless body and limbs and the anxiety. Not that the other parts of withdrawal aren’t terrible, I just find those to be the most upsetting. The anxiety is what sets in first, so I’m anxious until I get another hit and this anxiety isn’t even touched by any of the benzos in my collection. I’m back on my Suboxone at the moment, and even as I’m writing this I can still feel the anxious craving in my stomach. Heroin is terribly powerful, and must be respected. If I were you, I wouldn’t ever get a habit, but most of us that do didn’t really have that choice. It was already too late by the time we realized we had it.

The heavenly part:

Heroin has a lot of heaven associated with it in my mind, although those are offset some by the hellish consequences and such, it makes it hard to stop using. It’s cheap, and it’s wonderful and if I could get my hands on some again right now you better believe I would.

There’s nothing like the feeling this drug gives you. Cooking up a nice shot (which becomes very ritualized) and then pulling the plunger, watching that blood float in and then slamming that shot gives one of the most heavenly feelings in the world. Sometimes it’s immediate, sometimes it takes 20-seconds. However, when it hits, it’s amazing. It’s like all of your problems, worries, anxiety, depression and cares just sink down into your feet when it hits. The rush lasts around 5-10 minutes but is well worth it. Not to mention the high that follows, although less pronounced in euphoria than the initial rush, is also great and keeps you feeling great for awhile.

Part of the heaven is also the nod, getting on the nod is one of the best parts of heroin. When you can feel your eyelids getting heavy – and if you let them drift down over your eyes you’re left in a wonderful warm world of darkness. Not an uncomfortable darkness though, it feels like being in a sensory deprivation tank in heaven. You can’t help but smile as you feel what might as well be the hands of god picking you up and cradling you warmly.

Simply put, the feeling heroin gives you is pure unadulterated heaven. It’s a drug that has true warmth and beauty. The absence of it give a feeling of hell. It isn’t something that can be ‘dabbled’ in for the most part. It’s either you have a habit or you don’t. With my prior drug addiction, using heroin for three or so weeks has probably set my treatment back quite a bit. I’m back on my Suboxone now, but I’m still longing for another ‘last shot’ of dope. Usually with pharmaceuticals the withdrawals are bad, but taking Suboxone puts me right back where I need to be, as if I never used. Jumping back onto Suboxone after using heroin though has been tough. Even at a dose higher than I’m prescribed (8mgs) I’m still feeling anxiety and a bit of depression. Along with the sweats.


Do I regret my ‘vacation’ from Suboxone? No, not really. I’ve learned that regret is only going to make my recovery harder. I can’t help but feel that a full-agonist opioid would help me right now, or as a maintenance drug. Sadly, methadone is only given out in clinics in the US. I have a job so it’s simply not an option for me. Unless the clinic was right across the street from my work I couldn’t go, and it would actually be quite expensive around $1200 a month with health insurance. It’d pretty much be cheaper to get high. Top that off with the fact methadone has incredibly harsh, long lasting withdrawals coupled with all the other rules the clinics employ. I’m just going to keep tapering on my Suboxone. Hopefully within the next 48-hours I’ll be feeling normal again. It’s been four days since my last shot and like I said I’m still feeling a bit shitty. Recovery’s a bitch, and staying clean is going to be the hardest part if I can barely do it when I’m on replacement therapy.

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One Response to Heroin: Heaven, Hell and Why It’s So Hard to Stop

  1. Polypropylganda says:

    Interesting post. Best of luck to you!

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